According to news from Singtel and other carriers, the SEA-ME-WE 5 Consortium signed an agreement in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on March 7, 2014 to build a state-of-the-art undersea South East Asia - Middle East -Western Europe (SEA-ME-WE) 5 cable. The SEA-ME-WE 5 (SMW5) cable will span approximately 20,000 km, connecting 17 countries through Points-of-Presence (POPs) from Singapore to the Middle East to France and Italy in Western Europe, with a system capacity of 24 Tbps.

The SEA-ME-WE 5 consortium consists of 15 leading telecom operators, including Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL), China Mobile International Limited (CMI), China Telecommunications Global Limited (CTG), China United Network Communications Group Company Limited (CU), Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company(Du), Orange, Myanmar Post and Telecom (MPT), PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia International (Telin), Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Singapore Telecommunications Limited (SingTel), Sri Lanka Telecom PLC (SLT), Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM), Telecom Italia Sparkle (TIS), TOT Public Company Limited, and Yemen International Telecommunications Co. (TeleYemen).

The SMW5 consortium awarded the SMW5 supply contracts to Alcatel-Lucent and NEC. Alcatel-Lucent will supply the segments from Sri Lanka to France, while NEC will supply the Singapore to Sri Lanka segment.

The SMW5 cable system is expected to start carrying commercial traffic by early 2016. It is designed to provide upgradable transmission facilities by adopting state-of-the-art 100 Gigabytes per second (Gbps) technology. Fully loaded, it is capable of carrying 24,000 Gbps of capacity, which is the equivalent of transmitting about 4,800 high-definition movies per second.

Congratulation. The SMW5 consortium finally achieved this milestone after almost 8 years' planning, though there were more difficulties compared with the consortium for another significant cable connecting Asia, Middle East, Africa and Western Europe, the AAE-1 (Asia-Afirca-Europe 1).

Running over similar cable routes, the SMW5 cable and the AAE-1 cable will not only compete each other, but also a good backup and diverse solution for each other.

China Unicom, ToT and Telecom Yemen are members of both the SMW5 consortium and the AAE-1 consortium.